Sights En Route to Mt. Province

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“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.”  Lito Tejada-Flores

From the middle of the archipelago where the great white sand beaches abound, let’s go farther north. Going to a relatively small but famous town of Sagada in the Mt.Province.

Even before Chris and I became a couple (officially), it was always one of my plans to get to this specific place in the Cordilleras in Luzon. Oh well, if you can dream it…of course you can do it (and not even a Deutsch can stop me haha).

I live in a coastal city that’s literally just an inch above sea level, so.. well, this is something really exciting for me! But, it wasn’t as easy!

From Iloilo City, a 45-minute flight to Manila was the first step. And, oh, have I already mentioned a 3-hour delay of our flight? Anyway, so instead of going straight to Mt.Pinatubo, we were forced to stay in Manila for a day. (Not a very bad thing though.)

From Manila, we had to travel six hours by bus to Baguio City. To make it less painful (on the butt), we decided to make a stop over in Tarlac for a night. A well-deserved rest was great and of course, four hours left to get to the City of Pines then! Mandatory stroll around Baguio for a day again. 🙂

Until it was time to leave for Sagada. It was 2 weeks after the strong typhoon and the news of landslides in the Mt. Province had been on TV. Chris was worried about the risk we are taking. We talked about Halsema Highway and his desire to see Apo Wang-ud some weeks back  (coz he was considering getting a tattoo, an idea which I resist every day haha) and he knew it was a risky trip.

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We flew anyway. Quite wary though, we had to get some information from our hotel. Seemed like we wanted to just cancel the plan, until we get to Dangwa Station and talked to one of the bus operators to Sagada.

So off we go.

As the bus ascends, we don’t know what to expect. It would be a 6-hour ride up the Cordilleras. But behold! The view up there is magnificent!

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One couldn’t help but admire the stunning contrasts of the elements of nature.

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At one point, the reminders of the storm that had passed are still clear against the splendid background that makes one dreamy (and forget about how high on the mountain they are at the moment).

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On one side, the trees that stood strong serve as frames for such a graceful mountain side over 7,000 ft above sea level. 🙂

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The indication of the civilization in this remote area is admirable. The beautiful view of the mountain range is like a painting made realistic by the charming small villages and the vegetable farms they keep on the carved mountain sides.

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Truly, the most beautiful sides of nature lie far beyond where the keep-safes are dwelling.

When was the last time you took a trip to a place people say you shouldn’t? 🙂

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This is the fifth of seven posts in response to Christina of JustBlueDutch’s 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge Series.She blogs about a multitude of topics about her personal interests being a parent, traveler and a Pinay expat. It is always a pleasure exchanging thoughts with her.

The rule for 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge is simple. Just post your favorite nature photo and nominate another blogger every day, for 7 days. :)

For my Day 5 of this 7-Day Series, I nominate the1itinerary.com. If you are interested to know about travel experiences, you can head to this blog. :)

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Thanks for dropping by!

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Deutsch in the City (of Love)

deutsch in the city Whoa! I can’t believe this! 

I remember clearly how he uttered this line countless times as his eyes widened in either disbelief, surprise, or amusement. This would then be followed by a squeeze on my hand and a smile (something which I miss so much).

More than just the culture shock, C and I had a great time experiencing the many firsts for him in the Philippines. More often though, it is not the major things that make us burst in laughter. Rather, it was the random small, overlooked things in this part of the world that spark our conversations.

Jeepneys

A major means of transportation in the Philippines, we take pride in having the best designed jeepneys in the country. Chris couldn’t help but smile how a locally assembled car could have the hood and the engine compartment looking like that of foreign cars. Yep, including the logo. 🙂 We ended up touring the city by communing on these colorful, lowered jeepneys. For him, it was fun to see how the parts of this car, particularly by the driver’s seat. Added to this is the fact that most of them are small and one should try to shrink one’s self when it is full of passengers.

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The hanging electric wires that tangle

The tangled electric wires are an everyday sight, right? Well, perhaps in this part of the world, yes. C was so amused to see how these wires would hang by the old wooden posts along any streets we walked on. He took a photo of this while we were commuting for the purpose of shocking a good friend who happens to be an electrician. It was even funnier for him how people would just ignore the risk as the wires swing as the wind blows. When I told him about the exploding transformers at times, he was left silent for a while before bursting in laughter while saying, “More fun in the Philippines!”

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Old, unrestored structures

From afar these structures are perfect backdrops, but as one gets closer, the misfortunes they face are apparent. This hit C personally. Being an experienced restorator in Amsterdam, he couldn’t help but feel sad about how these places are left unnoticed, much less, neglected. While church-hopping as part of our sightseeing, he would examine closely how much work is needed to keep the centuries old buildings like this belfry of Jaro Cathedral, and the church and old convent of San Jose Parish, intact for the next generations to see. As we left every place, he would shake his head in disbelief. Guess someone’s interested in doing volunteer jobs for the churches at the end of the day, too.

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The church ceremony

There was a baptismal rite when we arrived in Jaro Cathedral, and of course, C was quite curious how this are done here. There was not much comment on his part except for some observations like, the number of people who are present in such an occasion. He said that in Europe, for as much as his experience, there will only be a few in attendance for this event and that only family members and close friends will be the persons expected to be invited. Anyhow, we both agreed to raise our kids as Catholics until they are old enough to choose whichever they like. That Sunday, we attended the mass and he was pleased to see how many people were there. The rites were quite different than that in Europe, though, he said.

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The spoon-fork partnership

On the first dinner we had straight from the airport, C couldn’t believe almost everything is eaten with only the spoon and the fork handy (unless of course you ask for a knife).This is very common in most restaurants, much more in the homes. He was smiling from ear to ear while telling me I am an expert in using this combination.This is because I was able to eat shrimp from a sinigang with this combination alone! On my part, I can’t stop laughing how he would prefer to eat rice with a fork! 🙂

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Soup in the morning

Another thing that amused him other than the spoon and fork is our fondness for soup in the morning. I know he loves bam-i (in fact, he can cook it too!) and I was thinking he would love the popular noodle soup called Lapaz Batchoy. He just kept looking at how quickly I devoured the contents of the bowl when we was not even halfway with his. Then came the question about the ingredients.  Upon mentioning “liver”, his deep-seated eyes widened as he simultaneously say, that’s why it tasted strange… I don’t eat liver. 🙂 So, no more batchoy encounter for him again.

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Cold beer and a glass of ice

Who wouldn’t associate beer with the Gemans? 🙂 Yeah… Octoberfest in mind, right? Being a Deutsch he is, of course, beer can’t be forgotten. When we ordered his first beer, he was quite excited as he had already heard about San Miguel Beer. He was eager to taste it himself. When the waiter returned with a beer, we was more curious why he was also given a glass full of ice. He whispered to me what is the glass for and couldn’t contain the laughter when I said that is where he is supposed to pour the beer for drinking. 🙂 It took some convincing  for him to try it. So, for the first beer in the Philippines, I had to grab the beer and wipe the mouth of the bottle with a paper napkin. Yep, he was giving me a strange look for this too, until I showed him the particles on the paper napkin. 😉 Now, he could drink beer the Filipino way! 😉

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Balut

“Your stay in the Philippines won’t be complete without trying balut.” Sounds familiar, right? Personally, I am not a fan of balut, so C and I had discussed about the not eating it countless times, which of course, as you have predicted, wasn’t materialized. Haha. C was left at home with the family as I had to attend a school reunion for the night. Everything else was good for him, until I arrived with a balut in hand. There was a vendor on the road as we drove home,  so I thought, why not? He was scared to see how the steamed embryo looked like as he stared with disgust. Haha. Of course, men don’t exactly run away from challenges, right? He told me to try it too, so I took one and sip the liquid content and ate a portion of the yolk. The next thing I know, he was done too! Kudos! He said, it was not as bad as it looked like! Now, he scares his friends with this. 😀

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Cooking in the dirty kitchen

Most of the time, C and I would eat in a restaurant or take out some food to eat with the family. However, he said, the serving sizes in the Philippines are too small, in fact, he finds it too “cute” for such a big guy as he is. Other than missing his typical breakfast, he also wanted to try cooking in a wok on a charcoal stove. He was surprised how unpredictable the amount of heat could be for his kind of cooking, but he proceeded anyway, cooking a big omelet with cheese. The result? It was not what he expected it to  be but we ate everything, anyway.:) And yeah, a man in the kitchen is sexy. 🙂

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There are some other things that shocked him, too. These include the lizard that walk freely on the walls, the big house spider that hangs by the corner, and of course, the toilet with the tabo (dipper).  All these three had solicited outright expression of shock from his friends back home, too. 🙂 Nevertheless, it has been an exciting set of discoveries and experiences not only for mein Deutsch but also for us as a couple. 🙂

Have you let your guy immerse in the local Pinoy way of living? If so, how was the experience?

Islets Around Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo

isletsI feel we are all islands – in a common sea.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Crystal blue water, white sand beach, rocks on the sea, and a lot of sumptuous meals of scallops is a good combination this island can offer.  Yep, in my previous post about nature, I wrote about Cabugao Gamay island but I realized there are a lot to write about Isla Gigantes. I decided to write something more general to feature some spots I may as well choose to drop for the sake of limiting the post. 🙂

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As I have mentioned, the place is sooooooooooo beautiful but it comes with a price as it’s not very easy to get there. This is the next place to be for Chris and me. 🙂

Here are some other spots we’ve been to:

  1. Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. Hidden behind the cliffs of Gigantes Sur (the one on the first picture), its refreshing water can go really shallow during summer months but you will surely be surrounded by beautiful rock formations. When inside, you could actually hear the sound of water gushing in from the outside (you know what this means, right?). g1g8g7g6g5g3g2
  2. Bantigue Sandbar.  The remarkable white sand visible from afar excites one’s soul. Running through the beach on both sides, it is shaped like letter C and is so fine. There are just a few houses in this island perhaps because some parts of this go underwater on high tides. g12g13g14b1b3ba
  3. Antonia Beach. This place offers a very place for swimming and snorkeling. A favorite lunch stop for island hoppers, the fine white sand beach lie in between two limestone hills. g20g21g22g23g24
  4. All those rocks by the sea. Sharing this trait with Palawan, one can’t help but behold how beautiful the rock formations are around Isla Gigantes. g9g10g25g26g27g29g30g31g32

There are some more places to explore in Gigantes, but I will have to see it myself first before listing them down here. 🙂

Believed to have been home to ancient giants (legends), this group of islands is no doubt mystically beautiful.

Hey, where have you been lately?

***

This is the fourth of seven posts in response to Christina of JustBlueDutch’s 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge Series.She blogs about a multitude of topics about her personal interests being a parent, traveler and a Pinay expat. It is always a pleasure exchanging thoughts with her.

The rule for 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge is simple. Just post your favorite nature photo and nominate another blogger every day, for 7 days. 🙂

For my Day 4 of this 7-Day Series, I nominate Jonin Marie of joninmariegargoles.wordpress.com. If you are interested to know the experiences of a young and beautiful  Pinay wanderer with an eye for photography, drop by her blog. Her adventures make me wanna go places quite soon. 🙂

7 Things I Learned From Relationships

seven things relationshipsHave the chance to sit in front of the computer and go through my saved expression of thoughts. 🙂  I stumbled upon a file with this post I made on my other blog.

*** Worthy note: Don’t get me wrong… I am in a very happy relationship with my Deutsch Mann Chris. ❤ . While reading this again after a long time, I feel so lucky to love and be loved.

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Our past relationships, no matter how heartbreaking, frustrating, and challenging they’ve been, offer us a deep understanding of ourselves, our fears, and even our definition of true love.

When a relationship turns sour, many tend to consider it a waste of time.  The years and months we’ve spent our life around someone can never be taken back, but it gave us the perfect (wrong) persons so we can learn our lessons better. It is an effective teaching tool, a laboratory, an on-the-job stint that is uniquely assigned to help shape who we truly are, and who we can actually be.

But, how relevant is the past? What makes it an essential compass for future relationships?  It might sound quite counterintuitive but I believe these are the top seven lessons one could get from their (junk/failed/past) relationships.

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Go for the one who makes you feel good about yourself. Image from Reductress.com

1. Past relationships help you spot who makes you grow, and who isn’t. Though it might be true that the amount of love received shouldn’t always be equal to the amount of love shared, you should invest in the people who truly invest in you, too.  This is a two-way street, anyway. Relationships help develop your skill in assessing those who are in for the good times and gone in the bad.  When someone has a genuine interest in you, they will help you reach your full potential and materialize your dreams by making you feel good about yourself, your abilities and your choices. They will support you despite the personal sacrifices to be made. The person who loves you never gives up on you, even when you are at your worst. The right person encourages you to become a much better version of yourself, continuously, not only when they feel like doing it.

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It is not about the heart or the head alone… they better be working as a team. Image from http://www.tudointeresssante.com.br

2. Past relationships teach you that there is a time to listen to your heart and a time to listen to your head.  We all fall for the person that makes our heart skips a beat. When we love, we tend to forget our self and focus more on the interest of the other. As it goes deeper, we become even more vulnerable and unfortunately, with the wrong person, we get manipulated. We can only love fully when we open ourselves to it, at times, willingly taking risks and changing ourselves to fit the very definition of who we should be according to the other’s standard.  When we are obsessed with the other person, we believe and become who they label us to be, we dance to their music. When we are lucky to find someone who sees the best in us, we will rise. But if we happen to meet those who exist to make us feel we are less than who we are, we fall down to meet that expectation.  Past relationships remove our blindfolds and make us more sensitive to the signs that tell us there is something wrong or unfitting.  When the brain, with all the stored chain of past events, starts to contradict what our heart’s desire, there must be something wrong. Only past experiences will enable the brain to ring the alarm.

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The person who loves you will make sure you are happy too. Image from self-central.com

3. Past relationships remind us that we should uphold our self-respect. With everything that goes in life, the only thing we can control is how much effort we put into something, and how hard we tried to achieve what we wanted. With the degree of affection we feel for someone, we might as well disregard the way we treat ourselves just to please them. Past relationships direct you to the path that says when love is present, no person shall be forced to do something without the integrity and grace. Love entails taking risks, so be ready to jump in with both your feet, and fight as hard as you can to gain what you wanted. In the end, you should know you have given it your best shot. When you know you gave your best but the person or the situation is still impossible, give up and conduct yourself with self-respect.  Though you may have fooled yourself at times, remember that your dignity is something no one can ever take away, and maybe it will work somewhere else.

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Image from northlondonflyingschool.com

4. Past relationships tell you that any connection has an expiry date.  Whether the connection is romantic, business, political, or friendship, any deviation from the alignment of set values is travelling towards its expiry date. We are who we love, and with that, we are willing to change in the name of love- but not all the time. If changing for the other person in a sign of love, accepting the person as he/she is should be the standard of love. Yes, we all said we give more value to the things we work hard for, but love should be something that is constructive. We always see our shared interest in the same music or food as compatibility, but along the way, there are bigger issues we’ll disagree on like family, finances, faith, and values. Many of us will maintain the relationships by going against our values, but for how long can we stand it? After years of going with the flow to please the other person, we will eventually feel the resentment. Past relationships will tell us that when we are contributing 90 to 100% to the bond, we are on for the one-man heavy-lifting, something which defeats the meaning of the word “couple”, which means a 50/50 share on things.

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5. Past relationships tell you that people don’t change. You can never change a man, or maybe a woman. Our nature, ways, principles, and values generally stay the same all throughout our lives.  They are imprinted in our systems, and they will always come back, no matter what. Though our views of life and things around us can shift from time to time, we have our “core” ways of dealing with stuff, and because they have been repeated through the years, it is impossible to change them during adult life. Past relationships tell us that when we get back to our exes, we are bound to suffer the same things that never made the first attempt successful. Those red flags that made us give up are the very ones that will cause the end of the same repetitive cycle. Experience will tell you that you had good reasons to leave the person, and coming back to them after a while doesn’t mean they are changed individuals. Those selfishness, insecurities, insensitivities, unresolved trust issues, clashes in values will always be triggered, and that you are heading for the same trouble if you ignore the warnings.

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To reconcile or not. Image from recultured.com

6.  Past relationships tell you not to reconcile for the wrong reason. Yes, we sometimes get tempted to reconcile with an old flame… for all the wrong reasons. Often, we felt that because we have invested so much time, effort, and emotions on someone, it would be wiser to just come back to them and expect to continue from where we ended, than pick someone and get a fresh start. Out of our frustration to bring back what we think was something we wrongfully lost, we consider our investments as something that backs up our need to carry on. Understandably, when we feel lonely, the best possible answer may be to bring in something/ someone already familiar. All the troubles, the issues, the fights and the factors that caused the separation can fade for some periods, then it comes back. What we perceive to be something which will work, will actually not.  Only past relationships can teach us that a YES is a YES and a NO is a NO.

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Image from Wikihow.com

7. Past relationships tell you that when someone evokes negative emotions in you, look at yourself first. We often wonder why people treat us wrongly, and we fail to see what triggered this. People we met are put in our paths so we can evolve for the better. Experiences in relationships tell us we can either learn from these lessons, or keep repeating the same mistake. When you don’t give your self worth, who else will? When you have to beg for attention, you will receive alms for your emotions, not real care and concern. That when they tell you “you can find someone better” because they have no other reason to break your heart, believe them, they know their worth and that is something not fitted for what you can give. Still, there are some people who will play with your emotions. Forgive them anyway, they might as well fall short of understanding how people should be treated. You’ll see, they don’t even know how to make themselves feel good.

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Image from http://www.minq.com

Just like the silver screen, our lives are filled with different cast of characters. Some are fixed, some are temporary. Some come unexpectedly and start shaking things up just when you are having fun.  Some are critical to the plot, and some have the power to change the storyline forever.

What about you? What have you learned from your past relationships?

 

LDR: How Photos Fill the Distance and Warm Our Hearts

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I keep myself busy with things to do… But every time I pause, I think of you. 

It is no doubt every relationship is subject to challenges.No matter how smooth the combination goes, couples are bound to face the tests of love. Now put distance in the midst of this reality. That doubles the challenge, right?

When you have some misunderstandings, you better be expressing your thoughts face to face, right? Or, when you  have your daily victories… you wish for a long, warm hug than just the emoticons that say “hug me”, don’t you?

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Just like many other couples,  Chris and I are both busy with our careers. Perhaps, we can only then share the same experience with some, being on the different sides of the planet. Luckily, this distance has never put a toll on us, though. (Thanks, maturity and career!)

What should you do when Google Hangouts or Facebook just aren’t enough? We try to inject fun into it by letting each other into our everyday life. 🙂 More than just the hours of voice and video chats, we share tons of photos!

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Yep. Photos have the unique way of making teleports possible. 🙂 And, we are so lucky technology makes it possible. When we say everyday thing, we mean, every littlest of events.

With these exchanges, we get to share insights on how we and our cultures are similar or different from each other. A picture doesn’t just paint a thousand words, it ignites hundreds of ideas. That bridges the 11,ooo kilometers between us.

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Often, we found ourselves talking about food, introducing to each other some terms and naming ingredients. We would laugh about how many words mean the same in the languages we speak. The topic about food would end up with a competition of who gets to clean the plate faster. 🙂 Of course, I always lose. Haha.

Sharing videos and watching it together was also a thing for us. We love watching short documentaries about the Philippines, the Netherlands and Germany. This sparks some discussions and provides avenues for us to talk about our common interest in culture and people. When one of us feels quite sad, we would watch funny clips and start laughing our hearts out.

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Some days ago, Chris sent me a link to a video showing how beauty is defined in different cultures. He agreed how Pinays would go for the long, straight hair. Of course, this means he pointed out on my appointment with the hairdresser some weeks ago. 🙂 We ended up talking about skin color with him saying there is no such thing as dying over whitening lotion in Europe and that if I should wish for a fairer skin, he has buckets of white paint instead. 🙂

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Daily updates about work are part of the routine. I always believe that when your partner understands the nature of your work, it is easier for them to imagine how your days are like, and accept the fact that the same work can eat so much of your time, too. I am happy he believes in the same, so we ended up looking at what happened to each other in a specific period of time. Time zones always get in between but we keep the fire burning, anyway.
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Perhaps, time zones sucks. You know, when I sleep, he gets home from work. On the same light, he is sleeping by the time I prep for work.  It can be quite outdated compared to the videochats, but photos would always fill the gaps when our schedules don’t seem to jive.

It works for us. How about you? Has LDR ever made you appreciate even the simplest of snaps?